Is 2022 the peak of meta cinema? The “metaverse,” if you will? With a recent onslaught of self reflective and self referential relaunches it sure seems that way. Although it technically released in December of 2021, The Matrix: Resurrections seems to have jump started the trend. So far this year we’ve seen the horror “requel” addressed in Scream. We’ve witnessed Nicholas Cage experience an on screen resurgence in The Incredible Weight of Massive Talent. And now, in the upcoming Disney+ film Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, we see the return of everybody’s favorite crime fighting chipmunks. And with this one, nostalgia flows from the screen like water from a busted fire hydrant. It’s modern. It’s exhilarating. It’s laugh out loud funny. It’s so much better than you’re probably expecting.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers was an animated phenomenon in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The cartoon series took two minor character, best known for testing the patience of the ill tempered Donald Duck, and gave them their very own detective plot. There were toys, lunchboxes and even an NES video game. The new movie picks up in modern day. Just like in the real world, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers was a popular series within the film. After the show’s cancellation, the stars parted ways and lost touch. But when toons start disappearing without a trace, there’s only one detective team who can crack the case… even if they aren’t real detectives.
When watching Rescue Rangers there’s an immediate and obvious comparison to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. We have live action and animated characters interacting in a cameo filled detective story. It doesn’t get any closer to Roger Rabbit than that. And those similarities aren’t lost on Rescue Rangers. They use the blue print perfected by Roger Rabbit to craft a story appealing to the whole family. And they succeed. I watched this film with my wife and thirteen year old daughter and our praise was unanimous. Even though my wife had never seen the animated series (I know… a tragic childhood) she was quickly drawn in and engaged with the characters.
The animation styles are crisp and eye catching. The utilization of both 2D and 3D animation pays off. It was a risky move considering how jarring it can be to see both styles sharing a screen; however, the film utilizes the differences to shine a light on the use of plastic surgery in Hollywood. Not really a topic you’d expect to play a significant role in a Chip ‘n Dale movie, and yet it works because all of the jokes are so well written and delivered to perfection from a superb voice cast. Taking over as Chip we have John Mulaney (Big Mouth). And voicing Dale we have Andy Sandberg (Brooklyn 99). Two resounding funny comedians who breathe fresh life into these decades old characters.
Merging the worlds of live action and animation is something that has been attempted and failed more times than I can count. But sometimes you have to sit through a film like Monkey Bone or Space Jam: A New Legacy before you find one as well done as Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers. It’s true, the world needs Chip and Dale. And so do I 8.5/10